The Sarawak Premier said the state government is presently in negotiations with Putrajaya for the takeover to take shape.
“There is a proposal from the federal government for us (Sarawak government) to take over MASwings. We have agreed in principle to take over MASwings.
“We have to do our due diligence,” he said when met by reporters after witnessing the contract signing between Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd (HSSB) and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) and its associated petroleum arrangement contractors at a hotel here today.
Abang Johari said the state government would have to look into the aspect of MASwings operating routes beyond Borneo.
According to him, the Sarawak government wants to have a boutique airline that offers regional routes rather than confining its services to Borneo.
“What we want is to have regional routes. The idea is for us to moderate the air fares particularly within Malaysia.
“At the moment, MASwings cannot fly to KL (Kuala Lumpur). We want to fly to KL as well as Singapore, so it has to be beyond the domestic routes.
“But in principle, the state government agrees to take over MASwings,” he said.
Asked whether the takeover process would involve a change of the name, Abang Johari said: “Let’s wait until the whole process is done.”
He was quick to add that the “name is secondary” since the state government aspires to have a boutique airline of its own so as to moderate the air fares.
To another question, the premier said algae-powered aircraft would be used after the takeover.
“We will be using SAF (sustainable aviation fuel). Of course, we want to upscale the production of SAF. We are quite advanced in bio SAF, and I’m not talking about biomass but algae.
“If we can produce about 1,000 barrels (of SAF) per day on 1,000 acres of algae, we are thinking of upscaling it to 10,000 acres (of algae),” Abang Johari added.
MASwings, with Malaysia Airlines as its parent company, is a regional airline operating the Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sarawak and Sabah.
In his winding-up speech during the State Legislative Assembly sitting last month, Abang Johari said the upcoming Sarawak boutique airline would not be profit-oriented.
He said the state’s boutique airline is aimed at stabilising the air fares for flights connecting Sarawak to other places.“We will pursue this matter with the federal government,” he said on May 24.